South Shields man, 64, caught after arranging to meet 14-year-old girl for 'food from Greggs'

A married 64-year-old who tried to meet an underage girl was snared by police in an undercover sting.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 1st November 2019, 1:14 pm

Francis Callaghan believed he had been chatting to a 14-year-old virgin over the internet but had been duped by a police officer, who had set up the profile.

During the conversations, Callaghan had discussed sex, warned he would need to be careful because of her age and suggested they could "get some food from Greggs".

Callaghan turned up to meet the child, with gifts of chocolate and a necklace, but told officers he "can't have sex anyway" due to impotency.

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Francis Callaghan

Newcastle Crown Court heard Callaghan had been told early in the conversations, at the end of March, that he was chatting to a 14-year-old but he continued contact.

During online, and later telephone, chats, Callaghan told the teen she was "stunning" and "gorgeous" and discussed sexual liaisons.

Prosecutor Harry Hadfield told the court: "The defendant said he had money and sent her an image of a bar of Cadbury's chocolate."

The court heard when Callaghan turned up to meet the child at the Royal Quays in North Shields in early April he was confronted by the police.

Mr Hadfield told the court: "The defendant was arrested from his car. He said 'I wasn't going to have sex today, it was just a bit of fun. I can't have sex anyway.'

"In the car was a bar of chocolate and in the boot was a bag from Warren James containing a necklace and silver heart.

"He said he was impotent and couldn't have sex."

Callaghan, of Prince Edward Road, South Shields, pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Judge Tim Gittins sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements.

Callaghan must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

Judge Gittins told him: "You were indicating to her you would have to be careful because you knew of her age.

"You offered treats and indicated you had money, classic grooming techniques.

"You progressed to arranging to meet that 14-year-old child, taking gifts with you, such as a necklace, only to realise you had been snared by an undercover police operation."

John Wilkinson, defending, said Callaghan is the sole carer for his wife, has health issues himself and has sought help to deal with his problems.